November 3, 2014 by Doug Webster
John Conkling, who attended Camp Otter in the 40s and clearly won the award as the oldest living alumni to attend the 2014 event in Dorset, is a wonderful source of memories of the camp in its earlier days. He recently sent us an 8.5×11″ sixteen-page camp brochure, printed just as WWII was starting. (John recounts memories of being at camp in 1945 when the war ended and the celebrations that ensued.)
In several cases, you may note that photographs used for it are also found in other collections posted on the site. As you read through it, you will see references to the war, rationing, parents concerns about summer camps during wartime, and children’s health.
Polio had no cure in those days and parents were constantly worried about its ravages. John recounts his mother arranging to have him and his brother stay at Otter after camp closed and go on canoe trips with Bill Crewson, in large part because she wanted to keep them up north rather than returning to the Buffalo area, since it was believed that summer months in urban areas were riskier. Note too that the brochure mentions parents could arrange for children to stay after Otter officially closed.
Given concerns about wartime rationing of food, the Brochure reassures parents that the Crewson farm is a great resource for campers, supplying much of their summer needs. It also notes that younger campers had their cabins in the Sandy Beach area.
Near the back of the Brochure is a listing of campers who attended Otter during the 1940-41 period and interestingly, one of the names is my cousin Dick Webster. His brother Lin also attended as did my father Edwin Webster….all of them, at the time, living in the Ithaca, NY area, home of Cornell and the many University ties to Otter.
Click on the first image to open it in larger size and then scroll right to read through the entire booklet.